The fact that this is even being considered shows that Obama doesn’t take seriously the Islamic State’s proclamations that it is a new caliphate that is going to keep on trying to expand. He thinks they’re just fighting to get Assad removed, and so if he obliges them, they will melt away. But who does he think will replace Assad? Does he seriously think he can find someone who can immediately marshal enough support to be able to withstand the Islamic State? If he picks an Alawite, the ruler will have the same problems Assad does. If he picks a Sunni, the Islamic State leaders will say he is an apostate puppet of the Westerners, and fight on. Meanwhile, the disruption in Syria will give an opportunity to the Islamic State, which will be the force best situated to take advantage of a power vacuum in Syria.
So what Obama is saying is that to defeat the Islamic State, we have to let the Islamic State win. And you can see his point — at least then it will be out of the headlines and he won’t have to be constantly hearing about it. Or so he thinks.
“Sources: Obama seeks new Syria strategy review to deal with ISIS, al-Assad,” by Elise Labott, CNN, November 13, 2014:
Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama has asked his national security team for another review of the U.S. policy toward Syria after realizing that ISIS may not be defeated without a political transition in Syria and the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, senior U.S. officials and diplomats tell CNN.
The review is a tacit admission that the initial strategy of trying to confront ISIS first in Iraq and then take the group’s fighters on in Syria, without also focusing on the removal of al-Assad, was a miscalculation.
Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Thursday on CNN’s “New Day” that he had also heard that the White House was shifting its strategy, in part because Turkey and other Gulf states — which are hosting refugees from Syria — were pushing for the removal of Assad.
In just the past week, the White House has convened four meetings of the President’s national security team, one of which was chaired by Obama and others that were attended by principals like the secretary of state. These meetings, in the words of one senior official, were “driven to a large degree how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy.”
“The President has asked us to look again at how this fits together,” one senior official said. “The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIL, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria.” The U.S. government refers to ISIS as ISIL.
Multiple senior administration officials and diplomats spoke with CNN on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions. The White House referred questions about the review to the State Department.
Meanwhile, other sources denied to CNN that Obama has ordered a review, but admit there is concern about some core aspects of the strategy. A senior administration official, responding to a CNN report, says there is an ongoing discussion and “constant process of recalibration.”
“There’s no formal strategy review of our Syria policy. What there is is a strategy for degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL that requires us to take a hard look at what we’re doing on a regular basis,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser.
” And, as you know we’ve had regular meetings that the President has joined with his national security team on this issue and Syria has been an important subject at those meetings. And I think the President wants to make sure that we’re asking hard questions about what we’re targeting in Syria, how we’re able to degrade ISIL but also how we’re supporting opposition and building them up as a counterweight to ISIL but also ultimately of course to the Assad regime.”
And Alistair Baskey, spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement Wednesday evening, “The strategy with respect to Syria has not changed: While the immediate focus remains to drive ISIL out of Iraq, we and coalition partners will continue to strike at ISIL in Syria to deny them safe haven and to disrupt their ability to project power.”
He added, “Assad has been the biggest magnet for extremism in Syria, and the President has made clear that Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern. Alongside our efforts to isolate and sanction the Assad regime, we are working with our allies to strengthen the moderate opposition …”…